tv [untitled] May 8, 2012 11:30pm-12:00am EDT
and in terms of the transition of bringing those families from after service to contributing to life it's pretty remarkable. and colonel jack jacobs is with the congressional medal of honor foundation. if there's an organization that's transformational, the medal of honor recipients and how they continue to serve this nation by sharing their experiences and, more importantly, the values and the character of what makes great leadership and a great citizen. it's truly a remarkable story. so i'm going to turn it over to john. i think we'll speak from our chairs because we'll get through everything faster. talk for ten minutes and over to your questions so, thank you again for coming to heritage and participating in what i think is a very, very special event. john, over to you. >> thank you. okay. >> ten minutes. >> ten minutes i have,
excellent. my wife is sitting back there, and i are used to being at a university and talking for 50 minutes but we can do it for ten. we have the immense good fortune of living on a ranch bozeman, montana. we came to teach many years ago. i retired only a few years ago and we had the great luck to buy a ranch only ten miles from bozeman which is the home of montana state university which is the university of the yellow stone. that is relevant to my story. it turns out that for a variety of reasons a very large number, a very high proportion of veterans, have elected to either return to bozeman or select bozeman as a place to retire. the county is a fairly large county. it's approximately half the size of the state of connecticut.
but it only has 100,000 people. but that 100,000 people is not exactly a random sample of america. very few people live in bozeman by accident. and no one comes to bozeman to make money. it is a college town. it's in the mountains. it's within -- the town is within 45 minutes of four different ski areas. one of the ski areas is a nonprofit. all of this fits in to the success that warriors and quiet waters has enjoyed. bozeman has less than 100,000 people in the state of montana which is slightly larger than japan, has just a million people. we just made a million people three months ago. so it's not highly populated. now we probably have more cows
than people. we likely have more sheep than people. we certainly used to. and we almost certainly have more trout than people. when you think of bozeman, you think of the access to yellowstone park, you think of all manner of kayaking. you think of people who basically are fun hogs, outdoor fun hogs, people who so enjoy doing stuff on the outside. and 30 years ago, approximately, a retired air force general and his wife created an organization called eagle mount. and eagle mount is an organization that makes a whole variety of outdoor activities accessible to people who suffer various pizcal and/or mental problems. they started, for example, 30 years ago, about, a program for
skiing for people without legs or people who are paralyzed. wow. that was really quite a remarkable thing. and then they added to it. they added kayaking and had an equestrian program and so forth, and it's a totally personally privately supported organization. it takes no government money. well, that is a model -- oh, and it now has 21, i believes it is, programs, rock climbing. can you imagine that without legs, for example? all man earp of wonderful thi s things. well, that is the background in which a few of us started talking about what can we do for wounded warriors? whatever it was, this was the perfect place to do it. one of my good friends, a fellow by the name of steele, is a
physician, retired, a military did doc, and, also, a historian who has written several books on military medicine. he and i used to meet regularly at the same health club and we chatted about a variety of things. it could be about fishing. it could be about hunting. but it often was about a conjunction of our interests in how can we help military veterans who have been severely injured? if there was ever a perfect place to create warriors in quiet waters it was precisely there. how many of you have heard or seen the movie "a river runs through it"? heard of it? most of you have. it's a fly-fishing movie. well, it happened to have been filmed, most of it, with within a very few miles of our ranch. it's supposed to be the black foot river but it is prettier --
well, it is, and more accessible and it was just a nicer place. so at any rate, it was filmed there. well, we were talk iing about wt could we do -- what could we offer these veterans? and it turns out because there are a substantial number of very success ful and young and active retired military officers there, a fellow by the name of eric hastings, a marine colonel, and tom o'connor, navy captain, and steele and i came up, hatched the idea of going to military hospitals and having the staff at the hospitals identify individuals to come to montana for a week and learn to fly fish. wow.
this was an ambitious project, and it was a bit hard to sell it to the people in military hospitals, i mean, because bozeman is sort of a remote place. how do we do all this? well, it turns out that the bozeman area is the mecca of trout fishing so at least a number of people knew about that. and the military -- the veterans had sustained contact with their colleagues -- managed to identify people in military hospitals who could basically recruit the first group. so we brought six very severely injured combat veterans to bozeman with the idea to teach them how to fly fish, and bozeman is such a remarkable place because, among other
things, there are a number of people who are professional fly fishermen and a nontrivial number. we're talking a few hundred. and some of them are extraordinarily good. and there is an immense reservoir of respect and appreciation for veterans that's just part of the community. so, at any rate, the veterans show up. we fly them in, either commercially or sometimes on military planes. and the first thing they do -- by the way, in the first years, and we started in '07, we had only one person who had ever fly fished. these tend to be urban kids. we only had one woman, by the way, also, until we started our couples program. but they show up. they're in awe. they are from houston and
they're from baton rouge and they're from philadelphia and they're from east l.a. and so forth. these are not kids who are used to family vacations 0 out in luxurious laces. but at any rate, they show up and they land in a spectacular place, bozeman, hohn mon, and if they land in june, the mountains are surrounded -- are covered with snow. and if they land in july, the mountains are still covered with snow. and in august there's a bit of snow there. in september the snow starts coming back. but it's really breathtaking. it's wonderful. at any rate, so they arrive and we take them to one of the sims, which is a very high-end fishing company, and we totally outfit them with all of the fishing gear they will need basically for life. now they'll have to replace it if they wear it out. and if a person's leg is off, left leg is off at the knee, we make waders -- sims makes
special waders for them are where the waders end at the knee so you don't have this bunch of stuff flopping around and they get a very nice rod and reel and pack and everything and they're outfitted totally with not the very best equipment. i mean, it's not professional guide quality equipment but it's better equipment than i use and my friends use. it's high-end stuff. and at any rate, so the first day we teach these people how to fly fish and so they go to a place where it's easy, that initially all of the groups came to our ranch. we have a little spring creek and a series of ponds, and we set the ponds up with fishing platforms, so people on crutches or people with prostheses or in wheelchairs can fish in comfort. they don't have to fish in weeds. but at any rate, it's a transforming experience for
them. and about, this is a guess, i haven't done this systemic sample, but something like a quarter to a third of them say, i want to come to bozeman and live. and so we worked with the university, and we have veterans who have come back and are now students. and we have special housing. jim, how much more do you want me to go? >> i think we're about done. >> is that the end? >> yes. >> that's the end. but you can tell i'm enthused. i'm enthused about what we do. let me just tell you that the people -- oh, by the way, i'm public policy adviser -- i'm on the board and my title is public policy adviser, and sometimes people say, public policy adviser? what do you have to do? public policy adviser. and i say, i continually advise us don't take any government money. can you imagine? it's entirely privately funded.
can you imagine the osha requirements that you would have to make if you were to load a person who is blind in one eye, lost his left arm and has only one leg and load that person in a boat and float him down a wild river, can you imagine the osha problems there? >> can you say something very quickly about what folks can find on the website? >> yes, yes. go to warriorsinquietwaters and type it in among other things we have a little 11 minute, nine second video that's well worth watching. also, i'm sure that everyone here has heard of the magazine "the weekly standard." i contacted matt labash two years ago, who is one of their senior writers, and i happen to know that he was an addict of fly-fishing. i said, aha, i know what lure will bring him. so at any rate i talked to him about warriors in quiet waters
and fly-fishing and so forth. he came in last year about this time, a little later, and he was just captivated by the program. and so the -- i think it's the june 11th issue of "week ly standard." it's the cover story. it shows a double amputee fly-fishing with the bridger mountains in the background and it's the longest article "weekly standard" has ever run, it's 11,009 wards with lots of pictures. >> and it's called sink or fly. edie? >> i'll be happy to talk to any of you as long as you want and if you want to volunteer to help us, please do. go to our website and send us some support, please. thank you. >> edie? [ applause ] >> thank you. it is my honor to be here this afternoon. my name is edie rosenthal. i am with the special operations warrior foundation. and for those of you who are not familiar with us, we are a
nonprofit charity that's been around since 1980. what we do in a nutshell, and then i'll expand on that a little bit, is that if you were serving in special operations, that's army, navy, air force or marine core special operations forces, and those are your navy s.e.a.l.s, your green berets, army rangers, those are the elite special forces guys, if you were serving in special operations and lose your life in a training or combat mission, our foundation will send your children to college all expenses paid. that's tuition, books, fees, room, board, laptop computer and a printer, and, if need, a swift kick from our president to make sure you get the right grades. he threatens many times to go fly out if you drop below a "c" but he's never had to do that. our secondary program which we picked up in 2005 was to support our wounded warriors that were coming back from combat. and what we do is we send them
$3,000 overnight. it gets to the hospital, and that is to help them defray any costs, unexpected costs, of course, whether that's bringing in a family member, a wife, a spouse, a grandmother, aunt, it can cover daycare, it can cover pet expenses. whatever they want to use that money for. they get it overnight. they get it immediately and they can use it for whatever they need to cover those costs. our board is meeting now to decide what else we can do to support our wounded warriors. we recently met with them at walter reed national medical center and we found out some of the things that they need is for long-term care we've been sending some of the spouses out for like a spa weekend or just to get away because the caregivers are getting just fatigued. so we found that we're just -- that's the least we can do and we're trying to figure out what else we can do for the
caregivers. we've also found out, and we just started a program where we're working with the select number of folks so we can get our guys who are severely burnt or having spinal cord injuries, we can get them the sleep number beds because we found out they need hardened mattresses to get into the bed and to get out of the bed but while they're sleeping they may need to be very soft. on the other side of the bed is the spouse who may not want to have that hard bed or soft bed. so no one was sleeping. so now we've gotten a lot of feedback, getting the beds they need. a simple thing, very simple, but making sure they get what they need. so we are very proud to work with our special operations community. we have 900-something children in our program. we have about 140 children in colleges all across the country right now. and we often get asked, what if
they don't want to go to a traditional school. our main goal is to make sure that that child knows that we are there for them. we are a part of their extended family. we reach out to them and send them birthday cards and christmas cards and congratulations cards. we invite them to any events that we can. we make sure that surviving spouse and those children know that their fallen parent will never be forgotten, and that we are going to be there for those children. so we make sure that they know that. so if they want to go to a vocational school or a technical school, we're all for that, too. our main goal is to make sure they succeed in life. if you're going to go to school and become a mason, then you're going to be the best mason there is because we're going to make sure you go to the best school to learn that skill. i know i didn't bring my notes. we are rate d at the top 3% of
charities within the country and our overhead is only 5%. people ask us a lot about that as well. so we're very proud. we're a very small staff. we all have multiple hats. we all do all kinds of jobs. the staff is mostly former military. i am retired navy. i have two sons serving in the military, so it's very personal. we get to know all the families. you get to meet the children. we're having a fund-raising dinner this evening. we're going to have about 20 of our families there, and it's kind of bittersweet. you get to meet them. you get to know them. you get to love them. so it's a lot of fun working there. >> edie, could you talk for a minute about how the foundation actually was established? >> i can. the foundation was started in 1980 when president carter sent over special operations teams and conventional forces together to rescue the hostages that were held in iran.
we had a terrible accident in iran, the president of the foundation, colonel john carney, was actually on that mission. so when the c-130 and the helicopter collided, we lost eight service members and one was severely burnt and right there on the desert floor of iran, the guys all passed a hat and said they have to do something. so from the -- just passing the hat to take care of those 17 children that were left behind to make sure that those children were never forgotten, we brought those 17 children to the 900-something children that we have today. >> and how is the foundation funded? >> it is all privately funded. no government funding. >> well, thanks. >> thank you. >> jack? >> thanks for having me here. ten minutes is a long time -- i spend a lot of time on television. >> it's like 47 appearances on nbc.
>> 50. you go on and the anchor says, so, what do you think about this, and you say i don't think anything about that. thank you very much. and they go to a commercial. that's the whole thing. talk for 17 seconds, so it's a lopping time. but it's enjoyable. i just spent the last couple of days on the air hmm continuously talking about the president being in afghanistan. of course my contribution to all of this knowledge is, yes, there is the president and, yes, that's afghanistan. i'm a military expert. it's a great treat to be with you. for somebody like me it's a great treat to be anywhere near a live audience or live human beings of any kind, typically the people i'm talking to are at home in their easy chairs in their underwear drinking beer,
so talking to real, live people is great fun. when i was decorated there were 400 living medal of honor recipients. today there are 81. and that includes the three young living recipients without whom the average age would be somewhere in the neighborhood of 78 or 79, something like that. i'm one of the younger ones except the three young kids who were recently decorated. and there were so many recipients back in those days that were all the result -- most of them were the result of the second world war. we had quite a few from the first world war and there was still a living recipient from the boxer rebellion, bill seech from 1900 he was still around. i had dinner with eddie richenbacker and jimmy doolittle and so on. those guys are all gone. they're all gone now. and with about ten years or so ago we started taking down oral histories to make sure that we
captured the reminiscences of the feelings, the ideas of the people still around. as i tell kids all the time, we all talk to schools all the time, when today is gone, it's gone forever and you can't get it back. when you're young, there's an endless stream of days they disappear over the horizon, two days, five years, a million years, it's all the same to you. and then when you get to be old and decrepit and you're falling apart, you realize that every day is a larger and larger percentage of what you have left, you realize that it's vitally important that you do whatever you can do today because if you don't do it there might not be a tomorrow to do it. the medal of honor recipients have always spent lots of time talking to public audiences but particularly to schools. and when we had 400 living recipients, we had plenty of assets available to go do it. the medal of honor society was
charted by the congress in 1958 but, of course, never appropriates any money for it. it was just a conglomeration of it's a small club of all the living recipients of the medal of honor. about a dozen years or so ago, some public spirited citizen happened to be in an airport and ran across a guy named john fin who recently was the oldest living recipient. he died when he was almost 101, navy, and received his medal of honor for action on pearl harbor day. and john fin was wandering around from airport to airport going to deliver addresses to schools to tell kids about service and sacrifice and patriotism and so on. and as this citizen discovered, john fin was paying for it by himself.
and, indeed, that's what all the medal of honor recipients always it did. they always traveled around and paid for everything by themselves. well, this guy thought it was an abomination and decided to found the medal of honor foundation whose sole purpose was to support the activities of the medal of honor. as the members dwindle, it becomes more and more important that this mission be accomplished. mostly to talk to kids. which is the most rewarding and the most important thing that any of us does. he h education is the single most important thing that we do. without it we wouldn't be here today and without it the next generation won't be able to survive so it's important to teach them the values that brought us to this point particularly that of service and sacrifice. now all of the medal of honor recipients will tell you exactly the same thing, we don't wear the award for ourselves. we wear it for all those who
can't. jim and i were talking earlier. somebody once asked bob carey, a medal of honor recipient, used to be governor of they been neb, governor of nebraska, strange, i think, to become senator of nebraska again, but i'm not a politician and i don't like politicians very much. but somebody once asked him, what does it take to get the medal of honor? he said, well, you have to do something. people have to actually see it. they have to be able to write and they can't hate you. now think about all those people who serve valiantly and nobody saw it or people saw it and they, themselves, were killed or the paperwork was written up and it was either intentionally or unintentionally lost and you realize that all the recipients know that we represent everybody who has ever been in uniform and it's the message of service and sacrifice and patriotism and so on that we bring to the children of the country. and we do it because the medal of honor foundation has the --
gets the assets from donations in order to do it. because without it, we couldn't do it. we couldn't send medal of honor recipients to talk about how their comrades sacrificed and how people in uniform today sacrificed for them. it's interesting to note that there are about 310 million people in the country and most of them do not know somebody in uniform. so a wide gulf has opened up, not an antagonistic gulf but a wide gulf, an emotional gulf has opened up between those people being served be a those who serve. it's important to close that. so that young people understand what service and sacrifice is all about. to that end the medal of honor foundation put together a character development program. it's an entire curriculum with lesson plans and videos, all of which were taken from the -- from the oral histories of medal of honor recipients.
by the way, we have 140 or so of them. we have 140 or so of these oral h histories and there are 81 recipients. it means we department -- there are 60 of them. if we didn't get started doing this, 10, 12 years ago, we wouldn't have 60 people on tape today whom we do have. and any teacher anywhere can teach all of it or part of it and teach not just civics and character development but history and politics and social studies of all varieties. it's 99 school districts there. we're in i don't know how many states now but it's vitally important we get to every school district in the entire country. which is what the medal of honor -- it's not our sole mission. and let me tell you very, very briefly my experience talking to kids, which i do all the time, i
was born a cynic so i'm a bad example. and i'm not getting any less cynical as time goes on. most kids are not. when you talk to high school kids, most of them -- especially in inner cities, difficult circumstances, at-risk kids, the mother is a prostitute, lived with the grandparents, father is in jail and so on, they are tough audiences. this program gets to them. and i remember after the test curriculum was taught in erie, pennsylvania, i remember we shot a video of asking kids to given us feedback about it. and i remember this one real cynical 17-year-old gang banger, i mean, this had been a bad kid, and he had the program in his lap and he's looking at the camera and he says, i didn't know any of this.
and sticks an accusing finger towards the camera, which meant the people in this community -- he's, why didn't i know this? it brought tears to the eyes. we can make a difference, and we think we are making a dins. we get out to everybody, all the kids. we will make a difference and the service and sacrifice of the people who came before us and gave us the tore much of liberty their sacrifice won't be in vain. i appreciate you having me here. >> jack, just talk for a bit about how people find out about the curriculum and get access to it. >> to get access to it and education in particularly, the information is on our website which is -- i can't remember because my brain doesn't work properly. >> www.cmohedu.org.